US objects to UN resolution on coronavirus amid China dispute

WHO has been an issue of contention between China and US

united-nations-reuters File photo: United Nations logo | Reuters

The United States on Friday objected to an UN-proposed resolution on the coronavirus pandemic after diplomats said it had agreed to compromise language with China that didn’t directly mention the World Health Organization—the issue of contention between the two economic superpowers.

The resolution drafted by France and Tunisia reflects rising tensions between Washington and Beijing and apparent differences within the Trump administration.

US President Donald Trump had accused WHO of being deferential towards China China and even cut off US funding towards the organisation, accusing China of being irresponsible in its handling of the pandemic outbreak, adding that it could have been stopped in China. 

China on Thursday said that it supports a WHO-led review into the global handling of the pandemic and the origin of the virus—but after the pandemic retreats. 

A high-ranking Indian government official on Thursday said that WHO’s failings in tackling the COVID-19 crisis should be taken up after the world overcomes the pandemic.

During a virtual summit of leaders of G20 states on March 26, Prime Minister Narendra Modi too had raised the issue of reforming WHO. He had indicated then that the organisation had not adapted to face new challenges.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday said that reducing funding of WHO is untimely. He also added that the ongoing pandemic requires an unprecedented global response.

"Once we have finally turned the page on COVID-19, there will be time to look back fully and understand how such a disease emerged and spread its devastation so quickly across the globe, and how all those involved reacted to the crisis. The lessons learned will be essential to address similar challenges effectively, as they may arise in the future," he said.